The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced an investment of more than $243 million in grants to support specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and nursery crops through two USDA programs – the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and the Specialty Crop Research Initiative grants program.
USDA is investing $169.9 million through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) to support farmers growing specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and nursery crops. Since 2006, USDA has invested more than $880 million through SCBGP to increase the long-term success of producers and broaden the market for specialty crops in the U.S. and abroad.
The funding will provide non-competitive SCBGP funding to the departments of agriculture in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories. The 56 grant recipients fund sub-awards for activities and programs to increase demand for agricultural goods and address issues facing the specialty crop industry including food safety, plant pests and disease, research, education, and marketing and promotion.
“This historic level of funding will help the specialty crops industry recover from the effects of the pandemic,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Over the coming months as we work diligently to transform our food system, you will continue to see Build Back Better funding announced that includes a mix of grants, loans, and innovative financing mechanisms.”
SCBGP recipients include:
- The Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board will partner with researchers at Michigan State University to develop strategies to mitigate the destructive diseases that affect Michigan’s $23 million asparagus industry. Growers have reported up to 50% yield loss and a critical reduction in field longevity. Field studies will build on previous efforts to improve crop quality with the goal of a sustainable and resilient asparagus cropping system and capacity for increased yields and competitiveness.
- The New Mexico Department of Agriculture, in partnership with The National Center for Frontier Communities’ Southwest New Mexico Food Hub, will implement several strategies to help increase its ability to provide equitable market access and services for remote growers in the region, shift into self-sufficiency after COVID setbacks, and build a culture of food safety among its network of growers through trainings and certification.
A complete list of the SCBGP grant recipients is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service website at: www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants/scbgp/awards
USDA also announced an investment of nearly $74 million to 21 award recipients through its Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) grants program. SCRI program investments address critical challenges facing conventional and organic food and agricultural production systems across the specialty crop industry. The program’s priority focus areas include improving crop characteristics, managing threats from pests and diseases, improving production efficiency, profitability, and technological innovation, and mitigating food safety hazards.